Australia’s men’s basketball team has received a boost in advance of its first training camp for 2009 with news that Nathan Jawai has fully committed to the program.
Jawai, who last year became the first indigenous Australian to play in America’s NBA, will attend all Boomers training camps in 2009 and if selected will play all scheduled international fixtures.
With Olympians Matt Nielsen, Andrew Bogut and David Andersen unavailable or recovering from a grueling 18 month schedule, and with Chris Anstey retired from international basketball, Jawai’s 208 centimetre, 130 kilogram presence will be invaluable.
And after receiving only limited opportunities in his first season with the Toronto Raptors, Jawai is keen to play big minutes with the Boomers.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Jawai said from Cairns.
“I’ve been in the Boomers squad before but I haven’t played any international games with the team, so hopefully I train well and get selected.
“If I’m going to break into the Boomers team for the 2010 Worlds and the London Olympics I need to get some international experience.
“This year the Boomers tour China, Argentina, Brazil and New Zealand and I plan to be in green and gold for every game. It’s the perfect opportunity for me.”
That journey will begin next Friday (June 19) when Jawai attends the opening Boomers training camp at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.
Jawai will join additional call-ups to the Australian squad in Matt Burston, Peter Crawford, Daniel Johnson, Jordan Vandenberg, Cam Tragardh, Daniel Joyce and Anthony Drmic at the camp.
If selected to the Boomers touring side, Jawai will contest two games against China (June 28 and 30) before flying to the United States to play in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas with the Toronto Raptors from July 10-19.
He will then return to Australia for the Boomers’ second training camp (July 21-27) in Sydney to gain selection to the team touring Brazil and Argentina (July 27–August 10).
Following that, a third and final training camp will be held in Sydney (August 18-22) in advance of the Ramsay Shield against New Zealand on August 23 (Sydney) and August 25 (Wellington).
A second tour to China (August 26-31) for the Stankovic Cup completes the 2009 Boomers program.
Jawai, who hails from Queensland’s Bamaga, the northernmost town in Australia, is almost as keen to play alongside his cousin Patty Mills and his good mate Kerry Williams as he is to break into the Boomers team.
“I’ve been training with Kerry in Cairns and he’s doing great things,” Jawai said.
“And I’ve been following Patty’s progress in the NBA workouts. He dropped 30 points in an All-Star game at the Treviso Euro Camp and I think he’ll get drafted.
“Hopefully it’s Toronto that picks him and they allow him to play for the Boomers so we can spend some time together.”
Mills’ availability for the Boomers’ 2009 program will be determined by whether his name is called in the 2009 NBA Draft and then whether or not his potential NBA team allows him to play for Australia in the off-season.
By Bill Baxter for BA Media